2022-02-03 – Let me say first that I have never read Maus, by Art Spiegelman.
I was aware that the book existed when the Tennessee ban hit the news. I’ve seen it for years in bookstores. I had no idea what it was about. But I had no interest in graphic novels. And I had no interest in punk/goth art—I didn’t know which it was. And what was with the Maus? Mickey? So many rodents in cartoon history.
And, of course, it wasn’t any of that. But I never read the book because of all those misconceptions.
A friend recently posted a list of about 50 commonly banned books. I had read 30 of them at one time or another. So I imagine that I’m going to read Maus, now that it’s been banned. And I’m not alone. The book has become a best-seller.
I’ve written before about a Yiddish concept called aftselakhis (here’s one example). You do something to spite the other guy. When I have written about aftselakhis, it’s mostly the other guy doing something to spite me or people like me. But I (we) do it, too. We’re all reading Maus, not because we want to read Maus, but to spite the people who are banning Maus.
Of course, I think that my aftselakhis is better than their aftselakhis. But it’s aftselakhis nevertheless. By definition, when you act aftselakhis, you are acting against your own personal interest to prove a point of spite.
I’m hoping that my urge to read Maus evaporates before Maus reaches the top of my To Be Read pile. I’m currently reading Beloved, by Toni Morrison. Beloved is also a book that is currently on the active ban list. But it is actually a book that I’ve wanted to read for quite a while. I bought it in December (before the current ban frenzy) with the remaining balance I had on an expiring gift card.
Then, maybe I’ll read Maus. I hope it’s good.
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